The government put regulations in place to protect consumers. When you buy a product, you should be able to trust the manufacturer followed all government requirements set for that type of product.
This is especially important when it comes to toys. Many of the regulations in place help to keep kids safe and ensure harmful toys do not make it to the market. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission explains the small parts regulation is in place specifically to prevent choking in small children.
The main point of the regulation is to ensure toys meant for children under the age of three do not contain small parts that the child could swallow and choke on. This not only includes pieces that are too small but also covers small parts that could result if the toy breaks. The regulation applies to any toy sold for children under three.
Small part definition
Something classifies as a small part if it fits into a test cylinder that is 1.25 inches wide and 2.25 inches long. This size represents the throat of a child within the specified age group.
Testing is a requirement to get any product to market. If during testing, the toy fails the small parts test, then the manufacturer cannot sell it. It can redesign the item and try testing again or abandon the toy idea completely. It may also label the toy for sale to an older group above age three.
If a toy does not meet the small parts requirement, then it must have a label on it that states it is not intended for children under the age of three and declare it is a choking hazard due to small parts.